Derbyshire’s home game against Leicestershire is their 12th County Championship game of the season and will be the 216th scheduled meeting between the two counties. Heritage Officer David Griffin previews the match and looks at the statistical highlights of the past.
Only Lancashire (221 games) have been Derbyshire’s opponents more times than Leicestershire, partly as a result of counties arranging their own fixtures in the formative years of county cricket. The proximity of the two counties meant that both were happy to play each other twice per season, with the Bath Grounds at Ashby-de-la-Zouch being a popular home venue for Leicestershire; the ground being nestled just one mile away from the Derbyshire border in the south of the county. Ilkeston and Loughborough have also featured matches between these two sides, as well as Burton, Buxton, Coalville, Glossop, and Oakham School, although Chesterfield, Derby and Leicester have hosted the bulk of the games.
Derbyshire have won 62 matches, Leicestershire 64, with 88 draws and one game abandoned without a ball being bowled at Loughborough in 1928.
Derbyshire have beaten Leicestershire by an innings 18 times, but their most comprehensive win came in the final match of the 2014 season when the margin was 408 runs, Derbyshire’s record victory by runs in their history.
That game was also notable for Ben Slater’s hundreds in each innings, 104 and 119, while Indian Test batsman Cheteshwar Pujara made 100 not out in the second innings having been dismissed ‘handled the ball’ in the first innings, only the second such dismissal in the county’s history.
Derbyshire’s largest total is 533 all out at Derby in 2017, following Leicestershire’s highest score of 619 all out in the same game.
Derbyshire’s lowest all out total is 36 – at Chesterfield in 1905; Leicestershire’s lowest is also 36 – at Loughborough in 1965.
One of the most improbable results in either sides’ history came in the game at Leicester in 1980, when, in a low scoring game, Leicestershire were set 199 to win and reached the final over of the match on 198-5.
Captain Geoff Miller invited Kim Barnett to bowl the last over of the game with what one may assume was an air of resigned expectancy that Tim Boon on strike and David Gower at the other end on 35 would see Leicestershire home.
Despite his youth, Gower had already played 20 Test matches for England and been on two Ashes tours to Australia, although his batting partner was playing just his fourth first-class match.
Nonetheless, a scrambled single, even a bye to the wicket-keeper would bring victory to the home side. Instead, Barnett, himself still only 19 and with just 13 wickets to his name, bowled five dot balls to Boon before the batsmen attempted a single from the final ball of the over and Boon was run out.
The outcome – a draw with the scores level – is the only such result in Derbyshire’s history.
Derbyshire’s batsmen have registered 102 centuries against Leicestershire, significantly more than against any other county, and unsurprisingly Kim Barnett leads the way with seven.
Wayne Madsen has scored five hundreds, including the most recent (103) at Leicester in 2020 while of the remainder of the current squad, captain Billy Godleman has made two hundreds.
The highest individual score against Leicestershire is Barnett’s 239 at Leicester in 1988, the sixth-highest score for the county. Barnett also made 200 not out at Derby in 1996.
Les Townsend and Bill Storer also made double centuries, and Mohammad Azharuddin made what I consider to be his finest hundred for Derbyshire when he scored 212 at Leicester in 1991.
Barnett, batting at the other end for much of Azharuddin’s knock later commented; “He went from 100 to 200 while I scored eight at the other end. David Millns bowled two balls at him – identical – just outside off stump. The first went through backward point, the second went behind square on the leg side, both for four. Millns was perplexed. He stood with his hands on his hips and said; “It’s like bowling at a revolving door.”
Barnett also scored a hundred before lunch against Leicestershire, a hugely entertaining 105 at Leicester in 1997, while Rob Bailey is the only Derbyshire player to record a hundred on his debut against Leicestershire, at Derby in 2000.
Hundreds by both opening batsmen is quite a rarity – just 15 instances for Derbyshire – with Denis Smith and Albert Alderman performing the feat against Leicestershire at Chesterfield in 1937.
Bill Storer was the first wicket-keeper to score a hundred against Leicestershire, making 142 at Leicester in 1896 and then improved on that with an undefeated 216 at Chesterfield in 1899. This game saw Storer on 216 overnight and hoping to add to his total on the following day, but Bill Bestwick failed to arrive at the ground before the start of play and Derbyshire – nine wickets down – were forced to declare.
It would be a further 89 years before a Derbyshire ‘keeper scored a century against Leicestershire; Bernie Maher making 121 not out at Derby in 1988.
The highest partnership against Leicestershire is 316 for the third wicket by Barnett and Adrian Rollins at Leicester in 1997, the seventh highest partnership in the club’s history.
Only eight Derbyshire batsmen have scored 50 or more batting at number 11, with Nick Walker’s belligerent 63 not out at Oakham School in 2004 the fourth best.
Two all-round performances stand out; Garnet Lee scored 81 and 107 and took 5-31 and 4-20 in the game at Derby in 1928, while David Wainwright made 109 and took 5-54 at Leicester in 2014 as Derbyshire won both matches convincingly.
In addition to the many batting records, Derbyshire’s bowlers have also excelled against Leicestershire, with Bill Bestwick taking five wickets in an innings on 18 occasions. Les Jackson took five in an innings 15 times, with Tommy Mitchell and Arnold Warren performing the feat 12 times.
Mitchell took 10-64 at Leicester in 1935, the second best innings analysis in the county’s history, while the best at Derby is Les Jackson’s 7-47 in 1962.
Matt Critchley claimed a splendid 6-73 in Derbyshire’s win at Leicester in 2020, while fellow leg-spinner Jeevan Mendis is the last bowler to take 5 wickets at Derby, when his 6-204 in 2017 saw the bowler concede more runs in an innings than any other in Derbyshire’s history.
Ten wickets in a match is rarer, but there have still been 28 occurrences, most recently the 10-155 by Mark Footitt at Derby in 2015. Bestwick took ten in a match seven times, and Mitchell 5 times.
The best match analysis is Les Jackson’s 13-73 at Derby in 1962.
Just 33 hat-tricks have been taken by Derbyshire bowlers in first-class cricket, three of which were against Leicestershire; by Ole Mortensen at Derby in 1987, Kevin Dean at Leicester in 2000 and Tony Palladino at Leicester in 2012.
Geoff Miller scored a half century (50) and took 12-138 at Coalville in 1982, one of only 23 instances of a Derbyshire player scoring a half century and taking 10 wickets in the same game.
Last 10 results between Derbyshire and Leicestershire:
2014 Derby: Derbyshire won by 408 runs
2015 Leicester: Leicestershire won by three wickets
2015 Derby: Drawn
2016 Derby: Drawn
2016 Leicester: Drawn
2017 Derby: Drawn
2018 Leicester: Drawn
2018 Derby: Leicestershire won by 6 wickets
2019 Leicester: Derbyshire won by 65 runs
2020 Leicester: Derbyshire won by nine wickets